Common Loon Common Loon
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Common Loon Migration Update: May 6, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

The Loons Have Landed!

Common Loon Migration
Spring, 1999

It seems their migration is almost complete. There are only 44 loon sightings to report today, compared to 144 in our last report.

Today's Migration Data

When did peak migration occur this spring?

1. Here are the Sightings Per Day, between March and May:
2. Graph the number of sightings per day.
3. Now see if you can answer this question:

Challenge Question #10
"When did loon migration peak in Spring, 1999?"

Discussion Questions

  • Is counting sightings per day an accurate way to determine the peak migration? List any concerns you may have about this.
  • Do loons migrate on weekends? What do the data suggest, and how might you explain this?
  • Can you find any weather patterns associated with high migration sightings?

Don't Hold Your Breath!

Photo: Woody Hagge

When you see a loon dive, you better not hold your breath waiting for it to come back up. Most loon dives last between 8.5 and 60 seconds. But under stress, loons can remain underwater for about three minutes. How long can you hold your breath?

Some people have watched a loon dive down and not see it come back up for longer than 5 minutes. And someone once clocked a loon's dive at 10 minutes! But many ornithologists believe these records are not accurate.

Challenge Question #11
"How might a careful, honest observer make a mistake clocking a loon's dive?"

Most of the time loons dive head first, but they can also slowly sink into the water. Like all birds, loons have balloon-like air sacs that hold a large volume of the air they breathe.

Challenge Question #12
"How might a loon's air sacs determine how high or low in the water the loon was swimming?"

Challenge Question #13
"If a loon were trying to elude a motorboat, would it be more likely to dive or to sink into the water? How about if it were trying to elude a distant Bald Eagle?"

Final Report and Answers to Challenge Questions
We've asked so many questions this week, and there are a few from past reports not yet answered. Therefore, we'll post one more loon update this spring, and answers to all the remaining questions out there.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
Please respond to only one question per e-mail message.
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #10 (or #11, #12, #13)
3. In the body of each message, answer one of the questions above.

Journey North
Year End Evaluation
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The FINAL Loon Migration Update Will be Posted on May 20, 1999.

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